By Jason Elmquist
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
As a three-time NCAA national champion and a four-time All-American, Eric Guerrero normally prefers the spotlight of the wrestling mat.
Friday night, his career in the sport — which also also led to a great coaching career as an assistant coach for his alma mater Oklahoma State — put him center-stage again as one of four distinguished members enshrined at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“Those who know me, I’m not a real spotlight person, so I kind of broke a major sweat,” Guerrero said. “I think it was a little bit excitement, a little bit nervous and a little bit the A/C being out.
“But joking aside, it’s a humbling honor. It’s hard not to think about all the people that are in the Hall of Fame and those that also deserve recognition that I’m sure will get inducted in the near future. As cliche as it sounds, I’m truly honored to be counted among the best in our sport.”
Making the moment all the more special was the fact the San Jose, Calif., native’s family was able to attend the ceremony in the building just a few yards from the arena in which he won three-straight national titles from 1997-99.
“I feel very fortunate to have gone in at 37 years old for that exact reason,” said Guerrero of having his family present, which included his parents Sebastian and Virginia Guerrero. “... To have my parents be healthy, both body and mind, to be able to make the flight out — and even the rest of my family — it’s a very blessed situation.”
Guerrero is one of only 12 Cowboy wrestlers to become a four-time All-American — while he was also a two-time Academic All-American, which drew shouts from his family when mentioned during his presentation.
“I was always in competition with myself, always tried to be the best version of myself that I could be. If it came with championships, then it came with championships — sometimes it didn’t, sometimes you lose,” Guerrero said. “When it was all said and done, I look back on my career with a lot of fond memories and this is just one more fond memory to add to that list.”
Joining Guerrero in the 2014 class are Dean Lahr, a three-time All-American and three-time NCAA finalists for Colorado; Kerry McCoy, a two-time heavyweight champion for Penn State in the mid-90s; and Mickey Martin, a three-time All-American and two-time national champ for the University of Oklahoma in the 1960s.
“Can’t let them trump us, right?” Guerrero joked of having a Bedlam rival in the class with him. “But Mickey Martin is well-deserved. Great wrestler, great coach with a great family. What they’ve contributed to the sport of wrestling is outstanding. So just well-deserved on Mickey’s part and really proud to be in there with him.”